Summary: Discover God’s provisions for regaining hope in life.
In one of the Bible studies I attended in Washington DC, I heard someone comment, "I know I have eternal life, and I’m not afraid to die. I just don’t like pain." I agree with that comment. What I need to work on is agreeing with the Apostle Paul’s insight in Romans 8:18, "I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us [as children of God]." Paul had hope that was greater than his sufferings.
A wise person once said, "There are three rings in life: Engagement ring, wedding ring and suffering. We are not guaranteed the first two rings in life, only the third." This is certainly true for those families who lost loved ones in the September 11 terrorist attack and the subsequent anthrax victims.
Despite recent tragedies, we must not be so myopic as to think that suffering began the morning of September 11. Millions of people die each year from malnutrition, diseases and natural disasters. Even if we are desensitized to their sufferings, we need only a quiet moment to remind us we too suffer personal losses and shattered dreams in life.
As a pastor I try very hard not to be shocked by what I discover about people: The couple who wear smiles and hold hands at parties but are thinking about divorce; the man whom everyone looks up to because he seems so perfect but is struggling with an addiction he can’t break; and the woman, who was a doctor in her homeland and is now in America, can’t find a job, because she can’t speak enough English.
What do we do when sufferings, sins and situations rob us of hope in life? This morning, we’re going to look at three provisions God gives to us to regain hope in life.
If you’re alive, and you’ve not experienced life situations that rob you of hope, just keep breathing; you will. A friend of mine loves to point out that tomorrow the world will roll over the person who is on top today. Illness and old age can roll over us also. So these three provisions will be relevant to everyone, eventually.
These three provisions are identified in 1 John 2:12-14. Let me read the passage for us.
You need to know John was writing to counter lies that crept into the church by 90 AD. Christians were facing great difficulties and their hope was staked in a right relationship with God. Certain false teachers added hopelessness on top of life’s difficulties.
According to the false teachers, if you didn’t know the secret truths they spoke about, you would have no hope of a right relationship with God. Or if you could not be perfect, you would have no hope of a right relationship with God. And they claim that the way you live your earthly life really doesn’t matter to your relationship with God, this robbing us of life’s meaning. Uncertainty, inability and meaninglessness produce hopelessness.
And so John identifies three provisions that God gives to us to regain hope in life. Let’s look at these provisions.
The FIRST provision that God gives to us to regain hope in life is the provision of pardon for our sins by trusting in Jesus Christ. We read this in verse 12.